Spongiforma squarepantsii is a species of fungus, genus Spongiforma. It was found and described in 2011 in Malaysia. It produces sponge-like, rubbery orange fruit bodies that have a musky or fruity odor.
And the name comes from the cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants, of course.
Like a sponge, these fungi resume their original shape if water is squeezed out. The spores, produced on the surfaces of the hollows of the sponge, are almond-shaped.
I discovered the Spongiforma squarepantsii fungi in researching this microfossil which may be a precursor [put your cursor in front ;-)] to the sponge family itself:
This well-preserved 600-million-year-old fossil shows actual cells that make it an excellent candidate for an ancestor of sponge animals.
The new discovery, named Eocyathispongia qiania, is a single fossil found in China. Yet its three tubular chambers arising from a base and its visible parts of cells resemble sponges according to Zongjun Yin et al of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Nanjing in the yesterday's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Looking at the fossil with X-rays and scanning electron microscopy (SEM), the researchers saw cells that resemble modern sponges’ outer structural elements, called pinacocytes (still looking for a pinacolada connection there via pineapple bract structure ;-) ).
The link to the Science News article includes this description of this possible sponge ancestor:
"Some surface cells are signs of pores, like those that let water swoosh into modern sponges. And a patch inside one of the tubes has pits encircled by raised collars. These could be an early version of the cells called choanocytes, distinctive cells in modern sponges that move water through the animal."
Further examples and connections are needed to make a definitive connection from this single microfossil to the sponges. . .perhaps to SpongeRobert SquarishPants?
SBSP to all you fun guys,